The quality of the air we breathe has grabbed the headlines in the context of industrial pollution and traffic in urban areas. Clearly, these are all cause for concern. But, what about the quality of the air we breathe on a more granular level? What about the air we breathe in the comfort, or discomfort in some cases, of our homes? In addition to the importance of light in your home, this is another big area that we often take for granted when we’re looking to create an optimum level of comfort for ourselves.
The factors that determine air quality are varied, from the age of your appliances, to the state of health of your furnace, and even down to the types of household products you use which may be contributing negatively to the quality of the air in your home.
In any case, here is a list of 8 ways to improve air quality in your home, boosting the comfort levels in your home, and your overall long-term health, too. Take a look!
1. Get an expert HVAC inspection
A what inspection, you ask? HVAC is an industry term for “Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning’. This means checking your ducts, registers, and the air filters in your furnace too. In addition to making sure that the air quality in your home is being maintained to the highest standard, another advantage of regular HVAC inspections is that of optimum energy efficiency. This saves you money, which allows you to breathe easy in another equally important sense.
2. Replace old and/or stained carpeting
The effect an old floor covering like carpeting has on air quality can be significant. If you’ve moved into an older home where the carpet has been present for many years, it may be time to switch up. This has a couple of positive effects. First, it can remove the presence of molds that are often found in old carpet fibers. And second, removing carpet often lowers the overall humidity levels in the home. This discourages further mold growth, and makes it easier for your HVAC system to filter the air in your home. Also, when you buy new flooring, be sure to ask your vendor about the flooring emissions standards to which their flooring products have been graded.
Read this article about how to remove carpet yourself courtesy of @eHow_Home
3. Closely examine household cleaners, air fresheners, hygiene products, gardening supplies
As the issues of environmentalism as it relates to health are moving more and more to the mainstream, the manufactures of common household products that affect air quality are stepping up to address them. But, using your consumer’s instincts when choosing products is also a good idea. Read labels, and choose products that list all the ingredients on the packaging. And of course, choose products that are biodegradable and non-toxic.
4. Assess your major appliances for harmful emissions
When you’ve moved into a new home with old appliances, or you’re hanging onto that old clunker of a fridge or dryer for sentimental (or economic) reasons, it might be time to seriously consider trading up. This is because newer models are held to standards that keep things like CFCs, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), and even mercury, out of the equation when it comes to your healthy environment. Old ones don’t. For long-term health and air quality, newer appliances are worth the initial investment.
When it comes to recycling those old clunkers, take a look at this guide to recycling old appliances.
5. Get an insulation inspection
Much like the assessment and replacement of old appliances that may be negetively affecting the air quality in your home, this can also be true of your insulation. In days of yore, fiber glass insulation was commonplace, even if microscopic glass fibers, urea-formaldehyde emissions from foam insulation, and mold growth were detrimental to respiratory health. In the light of this, it makes sense to get the experts in to assess your situation, and perhaps to replace that old insulation in favor of modern, more respiratory health-conscious, and sustainable cellulose insulation.
6. Check for excessive moisture and mold growth
One of the major contributors to bad air quality in a home is the presence of mold. And one thing that mold loves is relative warmth and moisture inside your home. Attics and basements are particularly susceptible, where sweating concrete, poor insulation, and bad drainage can lead to a proliferation of mold growth that makes for an unhealthy environment throughout the house. Inspect your property for signs of excessive moisture, and contact the experts about insulation replacement, concrete sealing, and other preventative measures.
For more details about mold, check out these tips on black mold prevention from cleaningblackmold.com.
7. Clean up after pets regularly
Once again, Rover and Fluffy are in the spotlight when looking to improve your life and health at home. Well, maybe not them, but certainly their hair and dander, both of which can negatively impact interior air quality. So can poorly maintained litter trays, which can promote the growth of airborne germs. There are a few things that can be done to minimize this impact; regular baths (for the pets!), regular litter tray maintenance, establishing pet-free zones in your home, and using allergen-resistant bedding for your pet are all good places to start.
8. Establish good airflow
While insulating your home is an important way to reduce moisture and mold, you also want to allow your home to breathe, just so you can breathe too. This is where the important idea of ‘airflow’ comes in, which is the movement of air in and out of your home. This allows you to breathe fresh air, while dust, mold spores, and other irritants are regularly expelled. A big part of this will be covered when you get your HVAC inspection. But, even simpler things like the use of ceiling fans and table fans can make all the difference in making sure that moist air doesn’t hang around for too long. Where it’s often important to see to the bigger picture like HVAC systems, appliance replacement, and it’s also advantageous to look to the simple stuff too – like opening a window every once in a while.
So there you have it – 8 ways to improve the air quality in your home, and therefore the health of those living there, too.
For more information on the area of indoor environmental health in general which includes good air quality, check out the Center for Indoor Environmental Health (CIEH ) website.